Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen says he has fulfilled a childhood dream by winning the 2023 African Footballer of the Year award. Osimhen beat out Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah to become the first Nigerian to claim the prestigious title in 24 years.
His victory marks the culmination of a remarkable journey, one that began on the streets of Lagos. Growing up amidst poverty and hardship, Osimhen faced numerous challenges, including the loss of his parents. Yet, his dedication to football and the unwavering support of his family and fans fueled his ambition.
In his acceptance speech, Osimhen reflected on his challenging past and expressed his gratitude: “As a young boy who came from the streets of Olusosun, who had to hawk in traffic almost every day to survive, becoming a treasure in Africa and World Football was a wild dream. Words can’t express the joy in my heart, this is a very special moment to me,” Osimhen wrote on X formerly Twitter.
“My football journey has been a rollercoaster of highs, tough lows and emotions. The goals, echoes and jubilation of victories keeps me going even when the critics, hate and pain of defeats hit me hard in the chest.
“The support of my amazing family, my fans most especially my Nigerian supporters and the love for the beautiful game of football motivates me to aim higher daily.”
He dedicated the award to his late parents, saying: “Losing my dear parents in the course of this journey leaves a scar in my heart as they have always been my major driving force for success since I was a kid, may their souls continue to rest in peace.”
Osimhen’s triumph serves as a powerful testament to the power of hard work and perseverance. His story is an inspiration to aspiring footballers across the continent, proving that even the most challenging circumstances cannot overshadow the strength of the human spirit and the pursuit of a dream.
In addition to Osimhen’s historic win, Chiamaka Nnadozie and Asisat Oshoala also brought home awards for their outstanding achievements in women’s football.